Some parents are frustrated that their children spend hours in the bathroom grooming before leaving the house. Meanwhile, other parents were unable to convince their children to take a bath.
If you fall into the latter category, then you know that dealing with teens who refuse to shower can be confusing and embarrassing. On the one hand, you can hardly force your child to take a bath if they don’t want to. But if your child doesn’t bathe regularly, they could face some serious social and physical consequences. Before you decide how to intervene, consider why your child is not interested in bathing.
This article explores some of the reasons why teens don’t bathe, how to address teen unhygienic problems, and how being a good role model is the most telling strategy.
Reasons for not taking a bath
Your kids have reasons for not taking a bath. Fundamentally, it could stem from:
lack of knowledge
Some teens simply don’t realize the importance of bathing. What your child may not know is that after puberty, if he doesn’t bathe, he will sweat and stink.
Some teens may have difficulty transitioning to treating their bodies more like adults than children. So while not bathing at age 7 is not a problem, at age 13 they may develop body odor if they don’t bathe regularly. Even bathed teens sometimes don’t realize they need to use soap or wash their hair.
If you suspect that your child’s reluctance to bathe is due to a lack of knowledge, it’s a sign that you need to talk about puberty. Discuss how physical changes, such as increased sweating and the appearance of body hair, mean it is important to take a shower every day. Explain to your child that skin bacteria feed on sweat, which can cause body odor. Showers can help anyone stay clean and smell fresh.
Your child has better things to do
Many teens would rather play video games or chat with friends in their spare time than worry about hygiene. Taking a shower can feel like it’s getting in the way of all the other things they want to do.
Teens can also be excellent procrastinators. Your child may agree to take a bath after school. Then, after school, they might say they prefer to shower after dinner. Then as bedtime approaches, they might say they’ll shower in the morning.
If your child’s refusal to bathe seems to be due to laziness, you may need to treat the issue like any other responsibility. Set limits and provide consequences.
Mental health problems or cognitive delays
Sometimes, refusing to shower can be associated with certain types of mental health problems. For example, teens with severe depression may lack interest and energy in the bath. But bathing wasn’t the only problem they had to solve. Depression can also lead to academic and social problems.
In some cases, traumatic experiences can trigger hygiene problems. For example, a sexually abused teen may refuse to take a bath because they fear the abuser might approach.
Adolescents with developmental disabilities or cognitive delays may also experience hygiene problems. Teens may not understand the importance of showering. Or he may have trouble remembering the steps involved in taking care of his health.
seek help when necessary
Seek professional help if you think your child’s refusal to shower may be due to a mental health issue. Talk to your child’s doctor or contact a mental health professional.
How to fix poor hygiene
Take the following steps to let your child know about poor hygiene:
Talking to teens about hygiene can be tricky. If you’re not careful with the way you bring up the topic, your child may become defensive. It’s also unwise to suggest that your child smells bad or has greasy hair. Leaving deodorant in their room or making fun of their body odor doesn’t help.
Instead, state your observations directly. Say something like, “Your hair looks oily today. You need to wash it” or “You have body odor. That tells me you need a shower.” Regardless, your child may become defensive. They might get embarrassed, but lash out and say cruel things like “Look who’s talking. you always smell bad. ”
Point out potential problems
The importance of good hygiene goes beyond appearance. Point out your observations and share potential problems that poor sanitation can cause. Say something like, “You haven’t showered in three days. It’s not healthy.”
Poor sanitation can lead to various health and social problems. Teens who don’t bathe may be at risk for certain types of skin infections. A stinky teen can have trouble making friends and making friends. They may be teased or bullied for looking unkempt. This can seriously damage their self-esteem.
Share your concerns by expanding your focus; they may think no one is paying attention. Say, “I’m worried about other kids noticing that you didn’t bathe” or “I don’t want you to be bullied because you smell bad.”
Skipping daily showers may make your skin healthier
Address other health issues
Teens who refuse to shower also often experience other hygiene problems. For example, talk to your child about the importance of wearing clean clothes and changing clothes after exercise. Likewise, encourage your child to use deodorant. Let them pick the one they like; this can be a good silent motivation.
Foot odor can also be a problem for teens, especially teenage athletes. Encourage your child to wash their feet in the shower, then wait until their feet are dry before putting on socks and shoes. Wear cotton socks and alternate shoes to minimize odor.
Establish hygiene rules
Tell your kids that you want them to do this every day—just like they do chores, finish homework, and eat dinner every day. Showers should be part of their daily routine. To encourage this positive behavior, give your child privileges like watching TV or entertaining themselves with electronics.
Now you have a “takeaway,” which means if your kids refuse to take a bath, or claim they’re too busy, take the privilege away. After a few days, your child may realize that it is in their best interest to comply with your wishes.
Resist the temptation to nagging your child. Repeatedly telling them they need a bath can cause them to dig in and do your best, just for it. Ironically, nagging also makes your child more dependent on you. The goal is for them to be able to remind them of hygiene while you are away. So make sure they know it’s their responsibility to bathe and there will be consequences if they don’t.
At the same time, giving your child the flexibility to choose when They shower. Just like adults, some teens may prefer an early morning shower to wake them up. Others may appreciate the calming effects of water before going to bed. Unless you say they have a compelling reason for them to shower, their ability to set their own shower schedule should increase the likelihood of them getting into a routine.
A word about rules
It has been said that “rules work best” when there is consistency, follow-up and predictability.
be a good example
If you wear the same clothes for days in a row, or you don’t shower on weekends, it’s fair to expect your child to question your own hygiene. Be a good role model and you’ll communicate more than ever through a two-hour lecture.
If you can, let your child see you washing your hands, disinfecting the kitchen, cleaning the bathroom, and doing other “cleaning jobs.” Your actions will communicate that you value cleaning — and enjoy the aftermath.
humor may help
“Adolescence is a time of rapid change. For example, between the ages of 12 and 17, the parents are as young as 20.” – Comic Henny “Henny” Youngman
You may be confused about why your child refuses to take a bath. In fact, your child may not understand it himself. Chances are your child isn’t taking hygiene seriously, they have too many things competing for their attention, or they’re dealing with emotional struggles. To communicate the importance of good hygiene, be straightforward, point out potential problems with poor hygiene, and determine the consequences if your child defies you. Being a good role model should also help your case.
It’s not uncommon for many parents to watch their disgruntled children swear that they no longer recognize the person standing in front of them. At the same time, no one knows your child better than you. So if you’re wrestling with a stubborn teen who refuses to shower, keep in mind that you may have to try several persuasive strategies before finding one that motivates your teen to shower.